With everything going on in today’s world, it’s easy to forget that there are also changes happening here at home. The Convention and Visitors Bureau that created the #VisitYpsi brand that helps market Ypsilanti to the world is being threatened. The threat is a merger between the Ypsilanti Convention and Visitors Bureau and the Ann Arbor Convention Visitors Bureau, which will cause us to lose our individual voice in the county. It is a mistake to create a bureau merger between two very different cities and peoples. This same merger has been brought forward before and failed.
The Hotel and Motel Association is the driving factor in asking the county commissioners office to look at changing the taxes and ordinance funds. The money from hotel and motel taxes is distributed at a 25/75 split, with 25 percent to Ypsilanti and 75 percent to Ann Arbor. If this merger happens 100 percent of those funds will be under the control of the Ann Arbor Convention Visitors Bureau.
Ypsilanti is not the type of town that is going to go down quietly without a fight. We are full of pride for our historic city, with strong community ties and love for our unique Ypsilanti culture.
Our bureau actively partners with the tourism and hospitality industry largely through marketing efforts, with the ultimate goal of enhancing our local economy and increasing the quality of life.
Our town needs this source of identity and stability that has Ypsilanti’s best interests at heart. We are on an upswing and, in order to continue, we need to keep our resources active and available, not lose them to the push for “the greater Ann Arbor area” and monetary greed.
Every time the Washtenaw County Board of Commissioners has met to discuss this, the people have been there, ready to speak up. Ypsilanti residents are strongly opposed to this merger and want to remind everyone that these cities are very different.
Although this may have not been meant to be an “us” against “them” issue at its onset, that is where we are at now. Who’s to say that a combined bureau in Ann Arbor will be able to meet the unique needs of the rest of Washtenaw County?
After having seen past mergers with Ann Arbor start with one promise and end differently, there is ground for concern. Movements to unite Washtenaw County under the title of the ‘greater Ann Arbor region’ have seen Ann Arbor benefit and flourish while the communities surrounding have not.
Therefore, Ypsilanti does not want to get stuck or forced into another Ann Arbor merger to lose more of our independent identity again. This is not a brand new idea. Do not be fooled.
The vote to merge has been delayed. Now is the time to speak up and get involved. Help stop the merger and keep a prominent voice in our beloved Ypsilanti community and future.